Grading and analyzing performances of Eagles CB’s in loss to Giants

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Sunday’s loss to the Giants sparked plenty of debate over Doug Pederson and the Eagles Offense, but there were also just as many question marks over the cornerbacks. Although they only allowed 257 passing yards, they also surrendered 4 touchdowns..but it’s not the touchdowns themselves that are the worry, it was how they were conceded. So, how did the cornerbacks fare individually against the G-Men?

Leodis McKelvin:
Snaps played: 59%
Tackles: 1

McKelvin’s play this season has defined the word inconsistent. One minute he would be making a huge play in the endzone and the latter, burned down the sideline for a huge gain. With injury concerns now finally out of the equation, McKelvin lined up against an intimidating passing attack on Sunday..but had his worst performance of the season.

It all started to go wrong very early on for the former Bill. Taking a bad angle against Odell Beckham Jr and anticipating a deep route, OBJ slipped by McKelvin with ease, got past McLeod and turned on the afterburners to find the endzone. McKelvin ran so deep after the route that it looked as if he was trying to cut OBJ off..something that just was not going to happen. Obviously allowing for McLeod to come down played a part in that decision, but he allowed acres of space between him and one of the most dangerous receivers in the league.

The second touchdown McKelvin gave up, was just inexcusable. Playing in zone coverage, McKelvin was looking for the ball as opposed to the receiver running directly alongside him. By the time he had turned his head, the lack of awareness saw him run straight into his teammate having already lost the battle and was punished heavily with a six-point play. Awareness has been the hard-hitter’s downfall this season but he had previously come way unscathed one too many times..but if like Cats, cornerbacks have nine lives, McKelvin may be coming to the end of his cycle.

In the span of just one quarter and a half, McKelvin had allowed two touchdowns..and this huge 43 yard gain to Victor Cruz. McKelvin ran to Cruz in man-coverage as opposed to tracking the route and the result was a complete shift in momentum that resulted in McKelvin playing catch-up for the rest of the route. What’s even MORE alarming is that this was the lone tackle he made in the game…

This was without a doubt the most worrying performance we’ve seen from McKelvin so far this season. While he settled down in the second half, statistically it was just as concerning as the tape makes it out to be. A lack of physicality and awareness really cost McKelvin and the Eagles here..and with Julio Jones and the Falcons just around the corner, alarm bells will be ringing.

Grade: F

 

Nolan Carroll:
Snaps played: 84%
Tackles: 3
Passes Defensed: 1
Carroll has very much been a cornerback finding his stride in recent weeks after a slow start. The confidence is building and as a result, his level of play is constantly improving. After such a poor beginning to the season, Carroll is really turning his year around..and Sunday proved to be no exception.

In a direct contrast, the one thing that gleamed in Carroll’s game was his instinct. Lined up against Sterling Shepard in zone coverage, Carroll stays light on his feet, keeps his eyes on the quarterback and detects a pass coming over the middle. Not only does he impressively shut the route down, but makes the crucial tackle on an assignment that wasn’t even his. This was the first time this season that Carroll showed a tendency to be around the ball more frequently.

Carroll didn’t waste any time getting acquainted with the star of the Giants Offense either. Lining up against OBJ in a zonal look, he was able to stay ahead of his man until the catch was made before wrapping him up and bringing him down..something that seemed alien to McKelvin. Carroll’s ability to keep his eyes on the ball while shadowing his receiver is something that has spiked in recent weeks and if its set to continue, could revive a wounded secondary.

But how would he fare against OBJ in man coverage? Simply put, he extinguished the fire. Getting incredibly physical with number 13, Carroll again made sure he wasn’t bullied off of his route and wrapped up Beckham with ease..only to then come up with an interception, ripping the ball from the gut of OBJ in an incredible turn of events..a fitting reward for Carroll’s play.

While Carroll didn’t make a play on the above clip, it summarizes the game perfectly. Great footwork, even better reactions and a nice bump to start the transition back over before following the play and making sure he was in a position to end it had it gone further.

Lastly, a quick guide on how to blanket one of the league’s most exciting talents: A short novel by Nolan Carroll. Great man-coverage here on a blitz play by the Eagles completely took OBJ out of the equation.

To put it simply, while McKelvin had his weakest game of the year, Carroll had his strongest, by far. A blistering performance has only continued the upward trend..and if it continues deep into 2016, then there’s no reason why Carroll can’t earn himself a long-term extension with the team at the end of this season after a tough start.

Grade: A

 

Malcolm Jenkins:
Snaps played: 100%
Tackles: 3

Taking on 100% of the Eagles Defensive snaps was never going to be an easy task, especially when you’re required to play in various roles. But judging Jenkins just on his slot play becomes a lot easier, as the team continue to show trust in Jaylen Watkins to allow Jenkins to fill in for the injured Ron Brooks.

The game started promisingly enough for Jenkins, as he showed phenomenal coverage out of the slot against Sterling Shepard early on, very nearly coming away with a huge play. Forcing Shepard the long way round, Jenkins ensured he would be underneath the receiver should Manning throw in his direction, showing his veteran instincts.

However, Jenkins got a little sloppy later on, giving up a bad pass interference call that was later declined due to the result of the play being a touchdown. Jenkins was simply too physical on the route getting into a small tussle, eventually propelling Shepard into the endzone all alone. It was a rare, but costly mistake from Jenkins.

The Eagles Safety was relatively tame for the rest of the night, but involved in just about every aspect of the Defense. It became clear his leadership was impacting the secondary as the young players turned to him after big moments in the game and while he may have had a quiet game (which is good for a corner), his presence was crucial.

Grade: C+

 

Jalen Mills:
Snaps played:56%
Tackles: 2

The rise of Jalen Mills has been great fun to watch this season and after comments in the week showing confidence in his ability to tame OBJ..he would be dropped in the deep end with 56% of Defensive snaps, rotating wherever needed..so did he do what he set out to?

Mills’ recent surge in confidence has been met with some great physical play..and it showed against the Giants. Not afraid to get in the mix and do the dirty work, Mills lined up in the zone here and showed the growth in his game. After Jim Schwartz came down hard on playing with his back to the ball a few weeks ago, the contrast to what we see regularly now is incredible. Mills dissects the play, quickly seeks out Victor Cruz and throws him to the ground with authority.

Playing on a deeper over-the-top route here, Mills shadows his man perfectly to keep him far enough in front that he has room to close and end the route, while keeping him close enough to make the pass difficult. Although the most impressive aspect about this play was the way Jenkins picks up the running back out of the slot and blankets him down the sideline.

So, when lined up against Odell Beckham Jr, did Jalen Mills hold his own? The answer was largely a yes. The seventh round pick did a great job of forcing Beckham outside and then coming back underneath to make life incredibly tough for Eli Manning, but perhaps even more impressive was the discipline.

It sounds silly, but Mills lost a LOT of leverage in the opening games of his career through trying to be too hands on and physical with his receivers..here, he simply shadows the route and shuts it down and looks far more relaxed on the field. The developments in his game are subtle each and every week, but the steps forward taken by Mills this season have been beyond impressive.

Grade: B-

 

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

 

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